Clothes Consumerism

The number became a brand

Back when I worked at Hattams (mid 80s to early 90s), we stocked Levi’s jeans, primarily the 555 “red tabs”, but also the 517 “boot cut”.

The numbers were Levi’s product codes. The first digit 5 signified they were for adult men’s — my recollection is that the “student” (kids/young men up to a size 81 cm/32″) sizes in red tabs were 855.

We didn’t stock women’s jeans, but they seemed to be all numbered in the 700s.

And while the sizing was multiples of inches, like most things in the trouser-world (in Australia at least), it was measured in centimetres.

Levi's jeans

At some stage in the last couple of decades, the product codes have become marketing tools. 501s in particular have been catapulted into a fully-fledged brand of their own. They used to be a specific type of button-fly men’s jeans; now they seem to be a catch-all for anything Levi’s feels like calling “501s” for marketing purposes, not to mention thrown onto promotional T-shirts and hoodies.

I think the women’s equivalent used to be 701s, but now they too go by the 501 branding, as I noted recently when Marita was out jeans-shopping.

They’ve also reverted the measurements from centimetres to those archaic inches, to give themselves some genuine American-ness. At least, I assume that’s the reason, as everybody else has switched to metric — well, apart from Burma and Liberia.

This page doesn’t claim to be authoritative, but talks about the numbering of Levi’s jeans — in particular it seems to be a list from after some of the numbers got mixed up a bit. I know I have two pairs of 504s (bought at Hattams in the last couple of years) which that list reckons are “slouch straight for women”, which I’d dispute.

Presumably internally Levi’s now have a completely different numbering system, so they can tell all the myriad of “501” products apart.


Selling shoes

So, those very nice but badly sized Ecco shoes I bought a couple of months ago… I’m finally selling them on eBay:

I bought these shoes recently. I wore them a couple of times and then realised I’d made a huge mistake: I had got the wrong size. Could I return them to the shop? No, not really – there’s now a teensy bit of wear on them – not noticeable under normal conditions, but enough to make them no longer “as new” for the purposes of returning them to the shop. Trying inserts didn’t work for me, so I’m selling them here.

They retail for about $200, so I’ve learnt an expensive lesson: make sure the shoes fit before you leave the shop.

Nice though the shoes are, they had a compatibility problem with my feet. Sigh. Hopefully someone wants them.

Last week I did in fact finally find a pair of sneakers that I like and that fits properly: a rather nice pair from Geox, which are much more similar to my old favourite pair of Eccos than anything Ecco sells now. And they fit.

So, if you’re a Euro size 44 (Aus 9 1/2), please buy my shoes.

Update: Sold for AU $78.69!

Clothes Doctor Who

Doctor Who goes mainstream

You know a TV show has gone mainstream when you see a t-shirt for it in the window of Target (as well as having its DVDs advertised on phone boxes).

Dalek t-shirt in Target



Sometimes I can mess up the simplest things.


Clothes Consumerism

I hate buying shoes

ShoesI’m good at some things, and bad at others.

One of the things I’m worst at is buying shoes. I hate it, I’m not good at it, and while I don’t always stuff it up, it seems like I certainly do sometimes.

I went to replace my Ecco shoes. They’ve been great; have lasted many years, but are finally on the way out.

The old ones: European size 44, which is theoretically about what I wear in Australian shoes: 9 1/2. They fit great.

FAIL 1: Somehow I managed to come out of the Ecco shop with a new pair that are also size 44, and very nice, but which are too big.

It’s not like I didn’t try them on. But looking back I can only assume I didn’t really pay attention to how big they were. Or if I did, I may have had it in mind that earlier this year I had problems with one of my pairs of shoes being too small, and over-compensated.

FAIL 2: After purchasing I then wore them outside a couple of times before really noticing the problems, so now they can’t be returned to the shop as they’ve worn very slightly.

There’s too much space in the toes. That might be solvable with thicker socks, but they’re soft leather so they bend in the wrong place when walking, hurting one of my feet.

I’ve bought myself a pair of shoes I can’t use. On sale, but still not cheap.

How can I be 38 years old and still stuff things up like this?

(I find it pretty embarrassing actually. I’m posting it here publicly to teach myself a lesson so I don’t do this again.)

How does one sell a pair of shoes? Ebay? (Anybody wear size 44 and want to buy these?)


I must be getting old

From a blog on the Australian Jewish News web site:

Recently I was on a bus and a young man got on in front of me wearing very low-slung jeans, so low in fact that his gutkes showed above the jeans.

I was sure that his jeans were going to fall off and I was just about to call out, “Excuse me young man, I think you are in danger of losing your hoysen!”

But I thought better of it and stopped just in time.

Slightly amusing Yiddish terminology aside, I concur — I don’t understand this fashion. I must be getting old.

“Gutkes” are better known as underpants. Underpants. That is, they’re meant to go under your pants.


Globalised fashion

How is it that the suit and tie is almost global? With the exception of military leaders and some of those guys in the South Pacific who wear skirts, just about every male politician from every country in the world wears one, for instance, and they all look almost identical.


As it happens, I need a new suit or two. Some of my work wear is past its use by date — not necessarily worn out, but I’ve somewhat gone off the whole idea of the mix and match trousers and jackets that I’ve had for the past decade and a half.

Well, I guess I’m particularly thinking of that jacket that looks like it belongs to a crusty old professor (thankfully sans elbow patches).

Clothes Consumerism

Retail win

Dropped through Myer last Sunday (last day of their stocktake sale) to see if they had any nice work shirts or ties on special. I hate clothes shopping, but discounts numb the pain.

Saw a shirt I thought looked all right. Special price: $29.95. Pelaco, okay brand.

Take to counter. Extra super discount: rings up for $12.50.

This time, I win.

Clothes Home life

Secondhand clothes

Should I feel guilty for buying my kids secondhand school clothes? They’re in very good condition — no doubt donated by kids who have legitimately had no use for them anymore because they’ve grown or left the school. $2 per item, about 90% cheaper than buying new. Reduce, re-use, recycle, right? So I’m covering 2 Rs and saving money.

Yet because it’s not something I’ve tried before, I’ve got little pangs of guilt. But I’ve chucked them into the wash cycle and no doubt will have forgotten about it in a day or two, when everything’s mixed-up and nobody can tell what’s “new” and what isn’t.


Windsor knot

My dad didn’t wear ties during the later part of his working life, and certainly doesn’t now he’s retired. So I was taught to tie a tie by Norm, who worked at Hattams in Elsternwick when we bought my first school uniform for Melbourne High, in summer ’84-’85.

I’ve been thinking for a while about switching from a Pratt Knot to a Windsor Knot, the latter apparently resulting in a bigger, more symmetrical knot… even if James Bond apparently declared it to be “the mark of a cad”.

I found clear instructions at and tried them a couple of times last week. The knot itself is pretty easy actually, just a teensy bit more involved than a Pratt knot. As always, it’s the lengths that were troublesome on my initial attempts, so I stuck with my traditional knot.

But Tony laid down the challenge on Sunday, and that’s finally spurred me into action.

Monday: Day one: Gave the thin end almost nothing at all, and it tied okay with the length about right. The knot is arguably aesthetically better, but not terrific, and I wonder if this works better with a tie that’s thicker, and hasn’t been tied the old way for a couple of years.

New tieTuesday: Day two: With my spiffy new silk tie, it works much better, though it took three attempts to get the length right. A nice, big knot, which doesn’t move around. Not quite as symmetrical as one might hope, but a big improvement over the old method. (Mind you, I found it wasn’t quite aligned right when I did a TV interview at lunchtime, but that may have been because it was blowing a gale at the time.)

Wednesday: Day three Okay, this isn’t too bad. I think I’m getting used to this now.

See the challenges us blokes go through to get a tie looking really nice?